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Bridges of Southeast Asia

Having inexplicably suffered a detached retina whilst watching Barbie VDO’s with an 8-year-old, (no the doctor didn’t believe us either), we’ve not taken any new photos in while. A trawl through some catalogued images seemed to turn up an inordinate amount of bridges of Southeast Asia photos so for no reason whatsoever other than a plea for un-inspiration to be taken into account, here are a few bridge shots!

Bridges of Southeast Asia, U Bein Mandalay
U Bein Bridge, Mandalay

In our defence, there are a lot of famous bridges of Southeast Asia. (Ok there’s plenty of famous European ones too but anyway…….) Each Southeast Asian nation seems to have at least one iconic bridge to call it’s own; Burma’s U Bein, much featured on brochure and guidebook covers everywhere, is indeed not only the country’s most famous bridge but one of it’s most famous sites full stop, whilst Hoi An’s Japanese Bridge is de rigour on any central Vietnam tour.

The 'Japanese Bridge', Hoi An
The ‘Japanese Bridge’, Hoi An

Thailand’s entry, of course, needs no introduction since book, film and mass tourism have made The Bridge on the River Kwai one of the world’s most famous river spannings.

Bridge on the River Kwai
Bridge on the River Kwai

Of course, the famous 1957 movie was made in Kithulgara, Sri Lanka, not Kanchanaburi and the bridge actually spans the Mae Khlong River not the Kwai River but less known is that after it’s destruction in ’45 by Allied bombing the bridge was apparently re-constructed post-war using Japanese POW’s.

South Gate of Angkor Tom
South Gate of Angkor Tom

Cambodia offers several options in the bridge stakes with notably the spectacular 12th-century bridges across the moat at Angkor Tom or the main entrance at Angkor Wat but if pedants wish to point out that these are causeways rather than actual bridges we’ll add the famous old laterite bridge at Kompong Kdei to the list as well.

Bridges of Southeast Asia, Kompong Kdei
Kompong Kdei, Cambodia

Spean Praptos, (dating to the 12th century), was part of the ancient Khmer highway linking the capital at Angkor with all points east and was still in use until a bypass was completed a few years ago. Perhaps we haven’t though this post out too well since things get a lot trickier when it comes to Laos. Apart from not having an iconic bridge Laos doesn’t really have many bridges full stop. This poor, sparsely populated mostly mountainous country doesn’t really do bridges despite being bountifully provided with rivers. Though the Mekong flows the entire length of the country up until recently the only crossings were the Friendship Bridge at Vientiane and a 2nd bridge in the south at Pakse. (A new bridge has been built at Savanhakhet whilst links between Chiang Khong and Huay Xai and a northern crossing between Laos and Burma are under construction.) With that in mind we’ll leave you with a much more typical rural Lao view – a total lack of bridge on the highway between Muang Khua and the Vietnam border at Dien Bien Phu.

Main highway to Vietnam
The main highway to Vietnam